Ask the Indy: What’s the deal with the Recall Polis campaign?

Dismiss Polis had a booth at Friday's Western Conservative Summit in Denver (Photo by Alex Burness)

A reader who identified herself only as Karen recently asked The Indy to write some balanced coverage on the effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis, who was elected just six months ago. It’s unclear what Karen finds problematic in the coverage. She didn’t reply to our emails asking for more detail and we were unable to track her down. 

But the facts are pretty straightforward and we’ll recap them here for you. 

On Monday, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office approved the petition from a group calling itself “Dismiss Polis.” The group now faces what is widely seen as the near-impossible task of gathering more than 631,00 valid signatures or 25% of the total ballots cast in last November’s gubernatorial race — by Sept. 6. 

Put another way, if the recall backers started gathering signatures on Monday, they need to gather more than 10,000 valid voter signatures every day to meet the threshold. 

“A herculean task,” Karen Kataline, the group’s media spokeswoman, acknowledged in a conversation with The Indy this week. Kataline said the recall attempt will go on anyway, citing anger and frustration at the leftward, “progressive” tilt of the recent legislative session, including bills signed by Polis.

Among the bills stirring the group’s ire:

  • SB 19-042: Changes the way Colorado’s nine electors cast their ballots by binding them to the winner of the national popular vote winner, rather than the winner of the popular vote in Colorado. 
  • SB 19-181: Tightens regulations on oil and gas, giving local governments more control and mandating the state elevate public health and safety considerations over economic development. 
  • HB 19-1032: Creates new education requirements, such as the teaching of consent, in comprehensive sexual education in schools. It also prohibits the emphasis on abstinence as the sole preventable method, among other requirements.
  • HB 19-1177: Extreme Risk Protection Order, better known as the “Red Flag Bill,” which allows for the temporary seizure of an individual’s firearms if that individual is seen as a threat to themselves or others. 

“You’ve got extremely progressive and radical positions that are going to change Colorado forever and basically turn it into California,” Kataline said. “And people are up in arms about it.”

“We want to offer the people of Colorado an opportunity to have a voice and to have a vote in the direction that Colorado is going to go,” Kataline said.  

In response, Conor Cahill, Polis’s press secretary, said in an email that during his first six months in office, the governor has “created bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of health care, ensure every kid can go to free full-day kindergarten this fall, and cut taxes for small businesses.”

“The Governor will continue to reach across the aisle and hopes that, by tackling key issues for Coloradans, we will continue to bring people together and focus on what unites us,” Cahill wrote. 

Dismiss Polis seeks to gather 900,000 signatures, almost a full 300,000 over the minimum, in case some of the signatures are deemed invalid and disallowed. 

“You’ve got extremely progressive and radical positions that are going to change Colorado forever and basically turn it into California. And people are up in arms about it.”

-Karen Kataline, Dismiss Polis Spokesperson

No recall petition has ever received over 600,000 signatures in Colorado. Serena Woods, communications director for the secretary of state, said the most signatures ever received for a recall petition was 212,332 against Amendment 75, the Campaign Contribution Limits Initiative.

“We’ll watch it, you’ll watch it, and we will see if it can be done,” Kataline said. “The people doing it really believe they can do it. And even if they can’t doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try.”

Since being approved on Monday, the group has moved into petition-signing mode, with locations across Colorado. Dismiss Polis plans to distribute 15,000 packets with over one million signature lines across Colorado’s 64 counties over the next week. The signing of these petitions will be handled by volunteers, something that Kataline said is a significant help to the cost of this operation. 

The petition drive is being paid for by donors, she said. From June 17 to June 27, Dismiss Polis raised $20,325 from 26 contributors across Colorado, according to campaign finance filings. Contributions came from those reporting working in agriculture, real estate, business and medicine. The highest contribution came from Michael Brownell from Fleming, who donated $4,500. Brownell could not be reached for comment. 


  1. I see a Facebook post from Americans For Prosperity, the SuperPAC largely funded by the uber-rich and conservative Koch brothers. The post I see opposes ballot issue CC, the ballot initiative that would remove caps on TABOR. From the tone of of the comments, I believe the Koch brothers are behind the recalls too.

  2. Good grief. Do these people not understand how Democracy works? Yes, I know they were successful in getting legislators recalled in the past, but that doesn’t mean the process of recalls based on legislation you don’t like is okay. That is precisely why we have elections. Republicans should save the fury and their money and run better candidates in lawful elections. I’m just appalled that our constitution allows this kind of activity.

  3. Actually, I’m not sure that they do understand how Democracy works. Their leader — Donald Trump– doesn’t understand, as demonstrated by his continuous, self-serving attempts to over-ride Congressional and Supreme Court actions. He wants unlimited power,crucial to his hobbled ego. His followers need to be heard on gun control, abortion, climate change, global political relations.
    But they need to understand that although they have a right to hold those views, the majority of their neighbors do not. We need to stop talking past one another and to really listen to one another,not to our echo chambers!

  4. In the unlikely event the Polis recall succeeds, I will initiate a recall of the recall, and if that succeeds, I will recall that recall as well. Grrr, get off a my recall. Double grrr.


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